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The Next Exploration - Petersen

Laurie L. Petersen
The Next Exploration
For John Scarlett, Rossie NY, 1942-2017

But who would keep me company
in the blacksmith shop, John asked
when they thought of sending the dog
somewhere else to live. So Keegan
stayed until something else got him,
but they sold the oxen in their turn,
and the cat exhausted life number
nine, and that left just the two of them
in a log house John had built by hand
where they had made a marriage

and a family from what the North
Country allowed them and now,
after so many Algonquin Park canoe
undertakings and their trips out
west to see what the other side
of the country had to say for itself
and sleepless nights to keep an
eye on the syrup in the sugar shack
and the au naturel swims out back
in the excavated pond and after

fifty years of writing haiku about
everything under the sun, after all
that and other things there is no
space here to say, John has hiked
on ahead to keep his own company.
While dust will have its day with
the tools and the pails and the tanks,
Keegan for one waits to find him
in the fog and to say, I knew
you wouldn’t forget me for long.